LivingWhy are you still single, according to science

Why are you still single, according to science

Right now, roughly a third of the adult population in the Western world could legitimately mark “single” in dating status. The funny thing is that meeting people has never been easier; So why are there so many lonely people? The evolutionary psychologist Menelaos Apostolou wanted to propose a theory. To do this, he turned to Reddit , a very popular forum and news aggregator.


While we all have our opinions about why finding a partner is so difficult, there is no scientific consensus on what drives trends in social relationships. Speculation aside, we lack academic foundations about the nature of the connection that occurs between two people.

“Understanding uniqueness requires at least two explanatory levels, namely, one theoretical and one empirical,” says Apostolou in his study, collected by the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science .

Empirical observations can only get us up to this point, providing simple case-by-case explanations. To get to the bottom of the matter, we need a solid theory that tells us why. So the researcher used the Reddit discussion website to collect responses to a straightforward question: “Guys, why are you single?”


While the question specifically focused on half the population (men), it was not limited to heterosexual relationships, but sought deep reflections (and not so much) on why men of all sexual tendencies were not in a romantic relationship.

The 20,207 responses in the thread were down to 13,429 actual responses, presumably after removing gifs, incoherent comments about lobsters, and armchair psychologists’ guesswork. After further analysis, there were 6,794 quality responses that could be coded into 43 categories.

The 5 most outstanding categories

Category number five, with 421 responses, referred to having poor flirting skills. “My IQ drops to 40 when I talk to women,” said a thoughtful Reddit reader.

In category number 4, was the lack of interest , with statements such as “I like my freedom and privacy.”

In category 3, the reason for being single was lack of effort . “I have always believed that relationships come and go by themselves,” said one of the participants.

In category number 2, low self-confidence stood out. “Confidence is the key, and I am blocked,” clarified another person.

What is the main reason?

The number one reason the guys on Reddit think they’re still single, with 662 responses is … being unattractive.

These results make it clear that there are a number of common concerns related to singleness.

Rewinding the clock to simpler times, in which many marriages were arranged or driven by social pressure or personal situation, there was very little need for men to have to show their charms.

Apostolou wonders if those same Reddit readers who searched for relationships could have been more successful in pre-industrial times. The answer is … probably yes.

“Modern single males often lack flirting skills because in a preindustrial ancestral context, selection pressures on the mechanisms regulating mating effort and selectivity were weak,” says Apostolou.

“Such skills are necessary today, because in post-industrial societies the choice of a partner is not regulated or forced, but people have to find a partner on their own.”

Reference: Stay Single? Evidence from Reddit. Menelaos Apostolou. 2018 Evolutionary Psychological Science . DOI:

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